Bengaluru, July 20: Zimbabwe were once a promising team in world cricket. They had made a stunning debut in the 1983 World Cup by beating Australia in their first match and then again in the 2007 World T20 by beating the same opponents.
In the 1999 and 2003 World Cups, Zimbabwe were among the top performers. In 1983, the same side had almost smashed India's World Cup dream had not Kapil Dev played that epic innings of 175 not out.
But Zimbabwe's promise remained unfulfilled, thanks to their political disturbances. The world still remembers the black arm-band protest staged by Andy Flower and Henry Olonga against the "death of democracy" in Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe.
They had yet made the Super Six stage despite the challenges, but as the 21st century progressed, Zimbabwe fell back and now it seems, the gap with the rest of the world is too big too bridge.
Zimbabwe had faced a Test suspension for six years in the mid-2000s and returned to play in the longer format in 2011. It was during the same time that Zimbabwe cricket had seen turmoil with several senior players resigning over the political interference. If the cricket infrastructure of the African nation was already not in a crisis, the decision by the International Cricket Council (ICC) on July 18 to suspend the side owing to political interference in its cricketing affairs has almost delivered a death blow to its future.
The ICC was in no mood to tolerate things after a government organisation (Sports and Recreation Commission) suspended Zimbabwe Cricket. The international governing body deemed it to be a violation of its constitution and by suspending Zimbabwe, the ICC freezes aid to the board and also bars any of its representing teams to play in major ICC events.
As Zimbabwe cricketers like Sikandar Raza and Peter Moor and Indian off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin have suggested, this decision has hurt them the most and with the country having already missed a Word Cup (ICC Cricket World Cup 2019) for the first time since making debut and now facing a suspension, one can well imagine which way Zimbabwe cricket goes from this point on.